Congressman Scott Peters

Representing the 52nd District of California

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Rep. Peters Demands More Accountability, Better Protection of Private Data

Apr 11, 2018
Press Release
Calls for financial penalties against businesses that compromise user privacy

Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) called on Facebook to assure the American people they will take better steps to protect online privacy and data collection to prevent a massive breach of user information and ensure third-party apps do not misuse any data they are sold.

Rep. Peters suggested that any company gathering personal information from online users must take steps to ensure that data is protected, user consent is received, and that the process adheres to federal regulations.

“Would it be reasonable for Congress to define the legal duty of privacy that’s owed by private companies to their customers, with respect to their personal information?” asked Rep. Peters.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, responded, “I think [that] makes sense to discuss and I agree with the broader point that I think you’re making, which is that the internet and technology overall is just becoming a much more important part of all of our lives.”

Rep. Peters continued, “Would it not be appropriate for us, once we define this duty, to assess financial penalties in a way that would sufficiently send a signal to the shareholders and to your employees…that the privacy you’re so concerned about is a bottom line issue at Facebook?”

Mr. Zuckerberg replied that he believed there is some conflict between public and business interests. Users are looking for a social experience, but want their information to remain private; the question is which of those user interests should be weighed more.

Rep. Peters concluded, “Some of this data got away from us and I’d suggest to you that if there were financial consequences—that made a difference to the business, not people dropping their Facebook accounts—that it would get more attention. It’s not so much a business model choice…but it’s that these issues aren’t getting the bottom line attention that I think would have given them a priority, with respect to Facebook.”

Click here or the image above to watch Rep. Peters question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Last month, it was reported that millions of Facebook profiles were harvested for Cambridge Analytica, a company headed at the time by Steve Bannon, Trump’s key advisor. The collected data was also used to micro-target political ads to U.S. voters in the 2016 election.